May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, a time dedicated to spreading
awareness about the viral infections that cause inflammation of the
liver. It is also a month of opportunity for certain groups heavily
impacted by this condition, such as Hispanics, to learn about the risk
factors and new data regarding these diseases.
Hispanics are considered a group that is high-risk when it comes to hepatitis C, and research earlier in 2014
found the prevalence of hepatitis C among adult Hispanics varied by
background with Puerto Ricans having the highest prevalence, those with a
South American background having the lowest prevalence, and those of
Central American, Cuban, Dominican, and Mexican backgrounds having
intermediate hepatitis C prevalence rates.
“Until now, national health surveys that assessed hepatitis C’s
prevalence among U.S. Hispanics have looked only at Mexican-Americans,”
Mark Kuniholm, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said in a press release
at the time. “As a result, no one knew whether the rates were higher or
lower in other Hispanic populations. It turns out that there’s a
dramatic variation in prevalence, with infection rates ranging from less
than 1 percent in Hispanic men of South American or Cuban background to
11.6 percent in men of Puerto Rican background – a more than 10-fold
difference. This suggests that it’s not appropriate to lump all U.S.
Hispanics into a single, broad at-risk group.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released their latest Morbidity
and Mortality Weekly Report on February 7th, alerting the public that
the number of adult vaccinations in the United States is significantly
lower than it should be. While all adults were below average when it
came to vaccine status, even greater disparities were found among
different ethnicities, with Hispanics having some of the lowest
Hepatitis A: Only 12 percent of adults aged 19 to 49 had full
hepatitis A vaccination coverage (at least two doses) in 2012. Coverage
was higher for Asians (18.7 percent) than for non-Hispanic whites (12.2
percent), but coverage for Hispanics (10.5 percent) was lower than for
Hepatitis B: About 35 percent of U.S. adults aged 19 to 49 had
the recommended three or more doses of hepatitis B vaccine. Vaccination
coverage was lower for blacks (34.2 percent) and Hispanics (27.1
percent) compared with whites (37.5 percent).
The National Health and Nutrition Examination
Survey (NHANES) estimates that 1.3% of the U.S. Hispanic population is
infected with hepatitis C (HCV). This is somewhat misleading because
the U.S. Hispanic population (like any population) is a diverse group
with many backgrounds. A new study conducted by Albert Einstein
College of Medicine of Yeshiva University was released that,
thankfully, is providing a more detailed picture about HCV prevalence in
Hispanics based on the background of origin. The study gathered
information from the NHANES survey and Hispanic Community Health
Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL).
It was noted that prior studies
focused on Mexican-American Hispanics. This study provided a
demographic breakdown of U.S. Hispanic backgrounds:
Puerto Rican – 11.6%
Mexican – 1.9%
Dominican – 1.5%
Central American – 1%
South America – 0.4%
Cuban – 0.8%
Unfortunately, the news article
did not list the complete breakdown of HCV among Hispanic women, except
to note that HCV was less common in Hispanic women than men, and that
the highest prevalence of HCV in women was found in Puerto Rican women
The prevalence of HCV not only
differed by Hispanic American background but also by the city where the
survey was conducted. The Bronx had a prevalence of 4.5% compared to
San Diego (1.7%), Chicago (1.2%), and Miami (0.8%).
January 14, 2014 – (BRONX, NY) –
The first study of hepatitis C infection among different Hispanic
groups in the U.S. has found that infection with the virus varies
widely, with Puerto Rican Hispanics much more likely than other groups
to be infected. The study, led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine
of Yeshiva University, highlights which Hispanic populations would
benefit most from increased hepatitis C testing and treatment. It was
published today in the online edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
is a viral disease that primarily affects the liver and is caused by
the hepatitis C virus. The virus is usually spread through contact with
the blood of an infected person, often from sharing needles to inject
drugs. Many people were also infected through blood transfusions before
testing of donated blood began in 1992. About 150 million people
worldwide are now infected with hepatitis C, including three to four
million in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC). The majority of infected people don’t know they’re
infected, since it may take decades for the virus to cause liver damage
severe enough to cause symptoms.
A new study conducted by Spanish researchers has sounded the alarm that
rates of liver cancer are rising dramatically among people with HIV,
solely as a result of coinfection with either hepatitis B, C or both,
aidsmap reports. Published in the online edition of Clinical Infectious
Diseases, the analysis of records from 18 hospitals in Spain concerning
HIV patients between 1999 to 2010 offered a grim portrait: Those with
hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, the most common liver cancer) were often
diagnosed late and had generally poor prognoses; and less than a third
of the liver cancer patients coinfected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV)
ever received antiviral treatment.
Rene Rodriguez is the definition of a fighter. A young 26, he was
discharged from University Hospital in Newark on Aug. 13 after receiving
his second liver transplant.
Aside from being a little thin at
his discharge with only 124 pounds on his 6’1” frame, Rodriguez – who
gave an interview in his Union City home last week – was all hope with a
witty, intelligent sense of humor, and big, smiling eyes. One would
never guess he’d been in and out of hospitals fighting the complications
of Hepatitis B since birth.
The Orange County Health Department is recognizing May as National Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19 as National Hepatitis Testing Day.
The intent of these annual observances is to raise awareness about the
global impact of viral hepatitis and the importance of preventing
hepatitis-related liver disease, including liver cancer.
The Hepatitis Prevention Program will be providing free
hepatitis testing and hepatitis vaccines during World Hepatitis Testing
Day on Friday, May 18 from 8:00am – 11:30am at the Orange County Health
Department located at 832 West Central Blvd. Orlando, first floor.